Friday, February 11, 2022

R.I.P. Carol Speed (Part I: 1971-73)

14 March 194514 January 2022
Carol Speed, born Carolyn Ann Stewart, died at the age of 76 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, on 14 January 2022. She has since been cremated. The daughter of Cora Valrie Stewart* (née Taylor*) and Freddie Lee Stewart, she became the first African-American homecoming queen in Santa Clara County, California. A student at William C. Overfelt High School, they don't even bother to list her as a notable alumni. As Carol Speed, she went on to do a limited amount of notable Blaxploitation films during the 1970s, including one of our favorites here at a wasted life, trash-film auteur William Girdler's classic Abby (1974). For "whatever reasons", the cute and bubbly beauty — and talented singer, actor and author — never had the career that she perhaps deserved. 
The generally accepted biography aside, over at the oddly disturbing Carol Speed Page at Authors Den, supposedly put up by Carol Speed herself during the days she lived in Atlanta (at: Carol Speed Spot, 3033 Continental Colony Parkway SW, Atlanta GA 30331), she drops some bombshells:"Carolyn Eisenhower Speed is the daughter of President/Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. Carolyn Eisenhower Speed was born at the Royal German Officers Compound in Berlin, Germany and flew from the Tempelhof International Airport with her father, President/Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower to Minter Field Air Base in Bakersfield, California USA. She wasn't born in Bakersfield, CA, but Berlin, Germany. [...] Carol Speed won the Peabody Award [an award for 'the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media'] for her novel The Georgette Harvey Story." She also co-wrote the song Sexual Healing, for which she, Marvin Gaye and Odell Brown won Grammys.
"Carol Speed will be remembered for her style, personality, quick wit and 'I am going to do it my way no nonsense attitude'." And her films, of course.
* If the obituary of Carol's mother is right (follow the link), then Carol may have born in Texas — but the text features enough factual errors that all info should be taken with a grain of salt. As is the case with all the info found at the truly bat-shit crazy Carol Speed Page at Authors Den. But then, Wikipedia is also questionable: our online research indicates that Cora Valrie became a Taylor after becoming a Stewart, and was born a Bennett.

"Michael Jackson was clipped when he was young so his voice wouldn't change. He had no sperm nor could he get an erection."
Carol Speed at twitter (Jul 10, 2009)
Cotton Comes to Harlem
(1970, dir. Ossie Davis)

Okay, Carol Speed doesn't exactly appear in this movie: she was supposedly hired to do some of the voices for crowd scenes. Not exactly a screen credit, but the film is good and is much too underappreciated today, so it deserves mention. It was followed two years later by a sequel, Come Back Charleston Blue (1972), which was not directed by Ossie Davis (18 Dec 1917 – 4 Feb 2005, of Bubba Ho-tep [2002]) but some white guy TV director named Mark Warren (24 Sept 1938 – 11 Jan 1999). Also entertaining.
Trailer to
Cotton Comes to Harlem:
A comedy neo-noir cop action flick, it was based on a book of the same title by Chester Himes (29 July 1909 – 12 Nov 1984); the theme song, Ain't Now But It's Gonna Be, sung by Melba Moore, was written by Ossie Davis. What we never really understand is why Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) and Shaft (1971 / theme), which both came out two years after Cotton Comes to Harlem, are normally credited as the start of the modern Blaxploitation genre when this film was a hit two years earlier and is one of the most successful Black films of the 1970s.
"Nancy Pelosi's friends at Yahoo are blocking Carol Speed's Email. Why does Nancy Pelosi think that she can take over Carol Speed Spot?"
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 5, 2009)
The Psychiatrist: God Bless the Children
(1970, dir. Daryl Duke)

A.k.a. Children of the Lotus Eaters. Carol Speed is seen briefly in an uncredited role in this TV movie-cum-pilot as "the Church Lady" which was aired on 14 Dec 1970. The TV drama that followed, The Psychiatrist (1971), lasted six episodes, two of which — The Private World of Martin Dalton and Par for the Course — were directed by a young Steven Spielberg. (Par for the Course was later recut together with the episode The Longer Trail and had a video release as The Visionary [1990].)
The series was about "Dr. James Whitman (Roy Thinnes of Rush Week [1989 / trailer]), who had his hands full with an assortment of patients whose issues allowed for the discussion of social issues of the day. [Land of Whatever]" [...] "Whitman's particular specialty is the then-new group therapy method, which he utilizes on a cluster of disturbed children and teenagers. The performances are better than the dialogue, which leans towards Tract. [modcinema]"
Scene from 
God Bless the Children:
And as for the plot of God Bless the Children: "The adults in a beach town ignore widespread narcotics use by the local teens until one dies. Dr. James Whitman, a young psychiatrist, comes from Los Angeles to set up an education program. He brings a junkie on parole, Casey Poe (Pete Duel [24 Feb 1940 – 31 Dec 1971]), speculating that the young man's tragedy may convince the teens of their danger. Poe teeters constantly on the brink of re-addiction. [Remembering Pete Duel]"
"In an interview about the series, Thinnes stated, 'For one thing, we have no endings, no solutions to our stories — because we deal with questions that have no answers.' And Children offers hardly any answers at all [...]. The message is as long as you can save one person from destroying their life, you’ve done something great. [...] The pilot is captivating, and it employs many of the same qualities you might find in an exploitation movie screening on 42nd Street in an effort to extol a message you probably would never see in the theater. Seriously, there are kids tying off before they shoot up and Poe tries to get high in a church bathroom! However, despite some of the more visceral qualities, Children is a graceful high-wire act, brutal and honest, and probably the best made for TV movie I’ve seen in a long time. [Made for TV Mayhem]"
By the time Carol Speed got around to putting up her intriguing Carol Speed Page at Authors Den, she was already more than sketchy on her own history and rewriting it, for though God Bless the Children was made and aired a good three years before the release of The Mack (1973, see further below), her Authors Den bio page says: "The great thing about this television film was that I worked with the Staple Singers. Which was one of Carol Speed's reason for taking the role of the Church Lady. The other was George Grief, Barry White's manager, thought it was a good idea, because of the gossip surrounding the assassination of Frank Ward, and my role as LuLu in the film The Mack."
Not the version from the film,
but the Staple Singers sing
God Bless the Children:

"Pam Grier was whored out by the Jews for five dollars at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, NV and sometimes they gave her nothing."
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 10, 2009)
Love Hate Love
(1971, dir. George McCowan)
A TV movie, it features Carol Speed's first onscreen credit and she plays a secretary. Whether she says anything onscreen, we know not. This might not be a fondly remembered TV film, despite being a hit and ratings smash at the time, but director George McCowen (27 Jun 1927 – 1 Nov 1995) went on to the direct the infamous and unforgettable nature-gone-wild disasterpiece Frogs (1972 / trailer) and the tranquilizer that is The Shape of Things to Come (1979 / trailer).
Plot: A young engineer, Russ Emery (Ryan O'Neal of Slumber Party Slaughter [2012 / trailer]), is engaged to marry a lovely fashion model named Sheila Blunden (Lesley Ann Warren of Clue [1985 / trailer]). But when the cat's away the mouse will play: he goes on a business trip, and she meets and falls in love with a charming playboy, Leo Price (Peter Haskell [15 Oct 1934 – 12 Apr 2010] of Robot Wars [1993 / trailer]). When she tells her former fiancé, who takes it well, her new beau beats her old one up — which drives her back into the arms of her ex. They marry, but the playboy proves to be a psychotic stalker incapable of rejection...
Scene from
Love Hate Love:
"Love Hate Love is super 70s fun but it's also an eerie look at how a bent mind warps love into its own little ball of evil. By today's standards this is fairly tame, yet it does attempt to capture the madness that overtakes someone when they've been denied what they want most. Of course it's all done Aaron Spelling style, so expect lots of fabulousness along the way. And when I say fabulous, I mean Lesley Ann Warren [below, not from the film], the forever chic and ageless beauty. The fashions — oh the fashions — talk about a great wardrobe. She's like a Nehru goddess here. [Made for TV Mayhem]"
The TV movie is O'Neal's last television project before becoming a big screen star. Of course, nowadays he's back in TV — but then, TV roles are no longer a stigma.
Love Hate Love (1971) —
music by Lyn Murray:
 "Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the thugs of the House, attempted to take over Carol Speed's name for the 'Jackie Brown' account and failed." 
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 25, 2009)
The New Centurions
(1972, dir. Richard Fleischer)
Carol Speed's official big screen debut as "Martha", a character mentioned in nary a review of the film that we read, but you see her in the trailer at around 1:4 — she's the hooker in the wig to the right from the interlude in the movie when the cops fill a paddy wagon with streetwalkers and then get them too drunk to ply their trade. (Another person who made her feature film debut in this film, if uncredited, is the legendary Kitten Natividad — she's seen somewhere as a "Go-Go Dancer in Bar".) The movie is based on the first novel of former cop of 14 years, Joseph Wambaugh, which was a best seller the previous year. 
Trailer to
The New Centurions:
Over at All Movie, Paul Brenner gives the plot: "The film has a bad-tasting us-versus-them mentality in its depiction of patrolmen-civilian interaction, and its hopeless atmosphere carries over into the bleak suicide of one of the principle characters. But behind its rancid veneer, the story is the old 'B'-movie police story concerning a rookie cop being shown the ropes by a kindly and wizened old veteran. Roy (Stacy Keach of The Ninth Configuration [1980, with Richard Lynch] and Mountain of the Cannibal God [1978]) is the young patrolman introduced into the ways of Los Angeles street life by Kilvinsky (George C. Scott [18 Oct 1927 – 22 Sept 1999]), the philosophical old pro. Kilvinsky is just short of retirement and wants to educate Roy to succeed him when he leaves. Roy, however, is on the edge because of a recent divorce, and it takes many speeches by Kilvinsky and the love and affection from his new black girlfriend Lorrie (Rosalind Cash [31 Dec 1938 – 31 Oct 1995] of The Omega Man [1971 / trailer], Death Spa [1989 / trailer] and Dr. Black and Mr Hyde [1976 / trailer]) to keep from going over the deep end."
"The trouble is that if [...] you've only just watched The New Centurions for the first time it not only feels like a weaker and earlier version of [the TV show] Hills Street Blues (1981-87) but it is also a movie which is riddled with 70s stereotypes. You just need to watch the scene early on where Fehler* and Kilvinski drive around picking up streetwalkers to get them too drunk to work as every single character is a racial stereotype. Despite the issues, which are now clear to see, The New Centurions does boast good acting with Stacey Keach and George C. Scott working very well together and having a believable vibe between them as the blank-page cop and the cynical veteran who knows the best way to do things and is popular due to his manner. [The Movie Scene]"
* Interesting name choice on the part of Wambuagh: "Fehler" is German for "mistake" — a foreshadowing of what the character is doomed to make?
"But the problem is more with [scriptwriter] Stirling Silliphant's adaptation of Joseph Wambaugh's novel. The novel, like the film, is episodic and covers several years in the lives of its characters. But the film compresses weeks — even months — and drastic amounts of character development into the space of a single scene or even a cut, resulting in a choppy story with underdeveloped characters. One moment Roy is a sad drunk trying to connect with a robbery victim (Rosalind Cash); the next, they're a couple, and just a scene or two later he's discussing marriage! The film has the feel of a whole season of TV squeezed into a single movie, and not too gracefully at that. At the very least, it probably should've been a miniseries. [The Weekly Gravy]" 
Quincy Jones —
The New Centurions (1972):
Over at the previously mentioned head-scratcher of a Carol Speed Page at Authors Den, supposedly put up by Carol Speed during the days she lived in Atlanta, it says: "The funny thing that happened on the set was when Carol Speed accidently knocked Stacey Keach's toupee off his head when she was coming out of the patty wagon. His toupee was so expensive Carol Speed didn't realize that it wasn't his hair. Stacey Keach was such a big star nobody laughed. [...] Carol Speed only had a few lines, so she was afraid she would be fired. After a break, they resumed filming [...]."

"Its not Iran that's the problem. Its the Clinton's smelly bums in Fredericksburg that are trying to go after a nuclear site in Virginia." 
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 26, 2009)
The Big Bird Cage
(1972, writ. & dir. Jack Hill)
Another fine slice of fun exploitation from low budget auteur Jack Hill, "the Howard Hawks of exploitation filmmaking", a fine director who quit the biz too early. His first known directorial experience was on The Terror (1963, with Dick Miller), as one of the many future names that worked on the project. Later fine films include the masterpieces Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told (1967 / Trailer from Hell) and Coffy (1973), and entertaining stuff like Foxy Brown (1974 / trailer), The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974 / trailer) and Switchblade Sisters (1975 / trailer). The Big Bird Cage is less one of his less-respected films than it is usually ignored: in most interviews with the man, it is never even brought up, while lesser films like Blood Bath (1966, with William Campbell) are. 
Trailer to
The Big Bird Cage:
But Pulp International (whence the photo below with the female cast) knows quality: "The Big Bird Cage finds writer-director Jack Hill at the top of his form as he sticks star Anitra Ford in a Philippine jungle prison where an evil warden uses the female inmates as slave labor to process sugar. [...] This is one of the most remembered of 70s B-romps, a sleazefest filled with iconic scenes such as Ford being suspended by her hair, and seven-foot model Karen McKevic slathering her body with grease and dashing naked through camp. [...] Wild, weird, and oh so incorrect...."
The Big Bird Cage is also the last of an informal trilogy of WIP films released by Roger Corman's New World Pictures from 1971-72, all with Pam Grier, that have long become cult favs: it was preceded by Jack Hill's The Big Doll House (1971 / trailer)* and Gerardo de Leon's Women in Cages (1971 / trailer further below).
* The Big Doll House could arguably be seen as Pam Grier's true feature film debut; she may have received screen credit (as Pamela Grier) in Russ Meyer's classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970 / trailer), but go ahead: try to find her in that movie. (She's supposedly in the big first party scene at Z-Man's house.) 
Pam Grier pretty much dominates The Big Bird Cage, with Babe of Yesteryear Anitra Ford definitely playing second fiddle. Carol Speed, who plays Mickie, is credited on the poster, for the first time in her career. Her fourth position on the poster pretty much echoes her position amongst the bevy of babes showing breast in the movie (in her case, via downshot). In the trailer, she is at least not the last name mentioned. (Spoiler!) Pretty much all the gals die by the end of the movie, but Mickie meets her maker midway when she is hit from falling debris while on the gears of the bird cage, "a terrifying mechanical mill that presses sugarcane and occasionally an inmate if she slips under its gears".
Over at the bug-heavy (as in: it doesn't work) William Girdler sister site Carol Speed's Web Den, one gets the feeling there might have been some strange vibes between the members of the female cast when one reads between the lines of Speed's comments on Pam Grier: "Even though I was in The Big Bird Cage with Pam Grier, I never actually conversed with her. We were on the same floor at the InterContinental Hotel in Manila. Yet, Pam had difficulty interfacing with myself, and another Black actress working on a different film. She appeared to be friendlier with the white actresses on The Big Bird Cage set. However, it could have been that I didn't sun at the pool. They were tanning for the nude shower scene. My character wasn't written to reveal flesh. [Carol Speed]"
Another dig at Ms Grier can be found at the previously mentioned somewhat odd Carol Speed Page at Authors Den, supposedly put up by Carol Speed during the days she lived in Atlanta: "The editors of The Big Bird Cage scrunched Carol Speed's face up when she interacted with Pam Grier. This was done to make Pam Grier look better than Carol Speed." Oh, yeah: and then there's the twitter comment....
The plot of The Big Bird Cage, as currently (31.01.22) found at Wikipedia: "Blossom (Pam Grier), a buxom bad girl, is the rough-and-ready girlfriend of a radical guerrilla leader, Django (Sid Haig [14 July 1939 – 21 Sept 2019]). She rather keeps her relationship a secret, but is also quick to start a fight without knowing it. However, when Django's mercenary friends itch for some female companionship, she softens and the two devise a plan to liberate the inmates of a local women's prison, where the inmates are kept barefoot and subjected to brutally hard labor. A woman named Terry (Anitra Ford of Messiah of Evil [1973 / trailer] and Invasion of the Bee Girls [1973 / trailer]), a social climber, ends up in the prison herself because of Blossom and Django's earlier robbery. She is now forced to deal with crazy inmates, gay guards, and torture of the cage. Terry, Blossom, and Django (who busted in by seducing Rocco, one of the guards) eventually come together to face off against the warden Zappa (Andrés Centenera of Black Mama, White Mama [1973]) to stage an explosive breakout."
"Once again, our heroines are trapped in a bamboo prison in the Philippines, though this time banana republic politics propel the plot. Everything else will be familiar to fans of this fetishistic subgenre, including the sadistic warden, predatory lesbians, man-starved nymphos, a little mud wrestling, and a large, non-speaking group of Filipino girl extras filling out the prison population. [All Movie]"
"There is sleaze here, in uncomfortable scenes such as the one in which a prisoner ('Terry'/Anitra Ford) gets hanged by her ponytail. But other than that, the comedy elements are redeeming. There is some welcome nudity too. In general, this is the male fantasy version of a women's prison (complete with hot shorts etc.). The interracial scene of interest happens between the leading couple and is played for laughs early on. If you'd like to know more about this or other films from director Jack Hill, buy the book Jack Hill: The Exploitation and Blaxploitation Master, Film by Film by Calum Waddell. [Cinema Head Cheese]"
"Despite the presence of such exploitation big guns as Pam Grier and Sid Haig, it's Pilipino acting legend Vic Diaz (29 July 1932 – 15 Sept 2006) that steals the show as the gay prison guard [Rocco]. There's a terrific scene near the end of the picture where the sex-starved inmates hold him down and rape him that has to be seen to be believed. As great as this scene is, that's about as weird as The Big Bird Cage gets, I'm afraid. [Video Vacuum]"
The other half of the "swishing and preening" duo is Moreno played by Subas Herrero (3 Apr 1943 – 14 Mar 2013) of Enter the Ninja (1981), a film famous for Christopher George's infamous death scene. 
"Enter the Ninja:
Best Death Ever!"
"[The Big Bird Cage] has a lot of other points to commend it and, if you're of the right frame of mind, to make you love it. For starters, the photography by Felipe Sacdalan (credited as Philip Sacdalan) is simply stunning in its use of color and light when capturing some breathtaking Filipino locations around Luzon. Then we have the mad intricacy of the 'big bird cage' itself, designed by Jack Hill's own father [...]. And what to say of Hill's own script, a delight of funny quips, smart comebacks and satiric comments that gains impetus all along the movie, never relenting, until the surprising body-count of the film's finale? [...] And then, we have the girls: first and foremost, the indomitable and unequalled Pam Grier [...]. This time she is surrounded by a host of gorgeous women [...]: Anitra Ford as the seductress that gets arrested because she became a political liability because she's been fucking the Prime-Minister; Candice Roman, the sprightly and cute blonde that has all the best lines; Teda Bracci (a real rock singer), the tough girl that commands respect and love both from her mates and the viewer; Carol Speed, the delightful black girl that suffers the cruelest death in the film, and Rizza Fabian, the Mindanao exotic beauty that rats on the others because the Warden has a say over her son's destiny. [House of Sin]"
Among other places screened, The Big Bird Cage was teamed with Al Adamson's Angel's Wild Women (1972 / trailer) at the Halifax Drive-in (a.k.a. Triangle Drive-in), which was run by Marvin Trouman, who "ran the Halifax Drive-In as a sideline to his undertaking business. Marvin, and his wife, Doris R. [Hoover] Troutman, decided they liked the movie theatre business better than undertaking, and moved full-time into it with the purchase of the Millersburg Colonnade Theatre, Gratz Sky-Vu Drive-In and the Halifax Drive-In. [...] [Lykens Valley]." At the E.M. Loew's in Hartford, ad below, it was teamed with Gerardo de Leon's Women in Cages (1971 / trailer below). 
Trailer to
Women in Cages:

"President/Sumpreme Commander Dwigtht D. Eisenhower had no allies in World War II. There weren't even any British soldiers in World War II." 
Carol Speed at twitter (Oct 9, 2009)
Getting Away from It All
(1972, dir. Lee Philips)
Getting Away from It All was aired as the ABC Movie of the Week on 18 January 1972, and as is obvious by the lead quartet of actors, it is the kind of toothless TV movie that eventually gave TV movies a bad name. Carol Speed, pictured below from the movie looking dowdy, is there with a few lines as the Town Clerk.
As far as we can tell, the only person who ever saw it fit to write about the movie is Michael Shawn at Letterboxd, where he says: "An ABC Movie of the Week that was clearly shot as a pilot and didn't get picked up for good reason. It's not that it's awful, it's just not good. It's the same old story of Big City dwellers from NYC moving to the Backwater Spit (an island in Maine this time), suffering through adapting, and finally coming to enjoy it. It sounds and is exactly like what you would expect some clueless exec to come up with while having a drink at the bar after work. In this case, two married couples decide to leave their woes behind and fix up a house in a dying fishing village but find that they owe the twenty years of back taxes, so they throw a party to bribe the community into voting against the taxes. The four actors (Larry Hagman [21 Sep 1931 – 23 Nov 2012], Barbara Feldon [of Smile (1975 / trailer)], Gary Collins [30 Apr 1938 – 13 Oct 2012 of Killer Fish (1979 / trailer)] and E.J. Peaker [of Graduation Day [1981 / trailer below] & The Banker [1989 / trailer]) are fun enough and they're joined by the likes of Jim Backus, Vivian Vance, and Burgess Meredith, but it just doesn't cohere into anything but fluff."
Trailer to
Graduation Day:

Director Lee Philips nee Leon Friedman (10 Jan 1927 – 3 Mar 1999) was a former actor who became a TV director and never made a film of true note throughout his directorial career. His best TV movie is probably the not very scary but nevertheless entertaining and not as cheesy as it could have been sci-fi horror, The Stranger Within (1974 / scene), which was written by Richard Matheson and starred Barbara Eden. But the best movie that Lee Philips can be linked to is from his days as an actor, the Del Tenney-scripted Violent Midnight (1963), the feature film debut of James Farentino.
Violent Midnight 
with Monstrosity (1963):
"Actress Angelina Jolie draws blood from babies to drank and then she watches the babies die slowly from lack of blood." 
Carol Speed at twitter (Nov 3, 2009)
(1973, dir. William Allen Castleman)
Bummer! is the feature film debut of character actor Dennis Burkley ([10 Sept 1945 – 14 Jul 2013] of Laserblast [1978 / trailer] & Nightmare Honeymoon [1974 / trailer]). Director William Allen Castleman (7 Jun 1922 – 5 Feb 2006) tended usually to score films, not direct them. Scriptwriter Alvin L. Fast went on to script better trash, including Black Shampoo (1976 / trailer), Satan's Cheerleaders (1977 / trailer) and Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive (1976). Bummer! is a David Friedman (23 Dec 1923 – 14 Feb 2011) co-production! Friedman also appears as the Lieutenant cop alongside Sergeant Bob Cresse [!] (19 Jun 1936 – 6 Apr 1998) — a sure sign of exploitation anti-quality, one would think, but...
The Video Vacuum, which says "I'm usually the last person in the world to label a movie misogynistic, but this flick just HATES women" has the plot: "This meandering, plotless, excruciating hippie flick focuses on a rock band named 'The Group' (the name 'The Band' was already taken I guess) on their road to superstardom (or stunning mediocrity, whichever comes first). They attract the attention of a trio of hot groupies (appropriately named 'The Groupies') and they fall in love. When success seems imminent, the overweight, slovenly, personal hygiene challenged bass player (Dennis Burkley) has a meltdown and accidentally kills one of the groupies. He then goes nuts and shoots the singer point blank with a shotgun, which causes the rest of the groupies to get their revenge."
Carol Speed plays the groupie Janyce, perhaps the juiciest of the female roles. There she is above, squenched between the other two groupies, Barbara (Connie Strickland) and Dolly (Diane Lee Hart), in an image found at Pulp International, which writes: "We're contrarians here—warned away from something we usually jump in neck deep. [...] And it's the reason we just watched 1973's Bummer, a film so scathingly reviewed we immediately did bio checks on director, cast and crew, to make sure mobs of critics didn't douse them all in kerosene and barbecue them on a giant pyre. The filmmakers survived, as far as we can tell, but we almost didn't. [...] Bummer has all the trappings of sexploitation cinema, but with none of the insouciance that makes it palatable. [...] This one is going to sting for a while." 
Trailer to
A lone note of possibly positivity is found at Full Moon, but then, they do stream the movie: "This film looks and plays just like what it's really about — the death rattle of the 1960s. 'Peace and love' and 'we shall overcome' have been replaced by the unspoken 70's slogans of 'Let's get stoned, rape some bitches, and kill somebody!'" If you don't want to log in YouTube, watch the trailer for free at Full Moon.
Has nothing to do with the movie —
The Sparks's Bummer (2017):
To an extent, Every 70s Movie agrees: "The first hour of the picture is borderline incoherent, as well as being unquestionably déclassé, so it's a relief once Butts begins his violent rampage. Thereafter, the picture gains a modicum of focus and momentum, even as it degrades into even sleazier terrain than before — think rape, murder, and vengeance. Later still, when Bummer segues into a characteristically downbeat '70s ending, the picture inches dangerously close to having style and themes. However, reaching that point requires trudging through so much pointless junk that the ending is less a saving grace than a minor respite. So, while the film's title is a fairly accurate description of its narrative content, the title is also a spot-on description of the experience of watching Bummer."
At diverse drive-ins, Bummer! got paired with the better-known and even now more-popular British slasher from 1972, The Flesh and Blood Show (trailer below).
Trailer to
The Flesh & Blood Show:

"Why does the United States Government keep trying to force a deranged pennyless Sec. of State in my house????? Its time to stop the madness" 
Carol Speed at twitter (Mar 29, 2010)
The Mack
(1973, dir. Michael Campus)
"The term 'mack' is an American derivative of the French slang word for pimp or player, maquereau. [AFI]" The poster art to the original US poster below was done by the great and unjustly forgotten Fred Pfeiffer (14 July 14 1940 – 4 Jan 1996).
Director Michael Campus (March 28, 1935 – May 15, 2015) went on to direct Survival (1973, with Anne Francis) and The Passover Plot (1976, with Zalman King), but The Mack remains his biggest success and best known film. Carol Speed, the third name on the original poster, has a major role in this film as Lulu, the gal (hooker, actually) who first suggests to the hero that he take up pimping again.
Trailer to
The Mack:
Spinning Image has a simplified plot: "It's 1967, and player Goldie (Max Julien*) is having a bad night, what with getting involved in a gunfight in a junkyard that ends with him attempting to escape only to have his car overturn and leave him injured. The racist cops who were part of the gunplay stand over him and muse on whether to kill him or call an ambulance; they call an ambulance and Goldie spends the next five years in a miserable jail cell. When he finally gets out, he returns to his old haunts in Oakland hoping to pick up the pieces of his life, and ends up in the local bar talking with a high up gangster who tells him that he should try his hand at pimping. Then and there Goldie makes up his mind to not only be a pimp, but to be the best there ever was..."
* Max Julien (12 July 1933 – 1 Jan 2022) went six feet under exactly 13 days before Carol Speed. His first credited screen role was in The Black Klansman (1966), which was followed by Psych-Out (1968 / trailer) and the oddly forgotten Uptight (1968 / scene). He also wrote and produced one of our favorite fun Blaxploitation films, Cleopatra Jones (1973).
"Set in Oakland, California, The Mack was the highest-grossing Blaxploitation film of its time, and the story behind the making of the film is perhaps more interesting than the actual movie itself. Rumour has it that screenwriter Robert J. Poole started developing the treatment and script on toilet paper while he was in prison and later passed it on to Max Julien and Richard Pryor, who wrote the final draft. The film is notorious for featuring the first-ever Players' Ball,* and along with Julien and Pryor, the film also featured real-life criminals, including the legendary Ward brothers. The production was plagued with problems: Richard Pryor's notorious behavior and drug habit led him to be kicked off the set after assaulting the director; Frank Ward** was murdered during filming, and The Black Panthers pirated the film stock in exchange for having a say in the making of, as well as an appearance in the movie. [Goomba Stomp] 
* Actually, it didn't feature a real Players Ball. The concept was thought up for the film, with the ball itself later becoming reality. The first "real" Players Ball was held 1999 in swingin' Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
** Frank D. Ward (20 May 1940 – 9 Oct 1972) was the pimp Max Julien based his characterization of Goldie on. He also acted as a consultant, and as "protector" for the film crew while on-site in Oakland. Over in her interview at the William Girdler website, Carol Speed mentions: "While filming The Mack, I started dating Frank Ward. About a week or two after we left Oakland, Frank Ward along with a woman were gunned down in Berkley, California. Well, to say the least, it was traumatic for me."
"One of the seminal works of Blaxploitation is actually a bit softer and more thoughtful than it may appear. This is partly thanks to the low-key, sleepy-eyed performance by Max Julien as 'Goldie,' the 'mack' of the title. [...] When he assembles his ladies, he lays down the law to them over the loudspeaker at the Planetarium, accompanied by thunder and images of planets and stars spinning around. The film is full of odd little touches, such as a man attacked by rats in the trunk of a car or battery acid injected into the veins of another. But in-between the (white) director Michael Campus employs an almost improvisatory approach, it's as if the actors weren't even aware the camera was running. Richard Pryor co-stars as Goldie's pal, but his role isn't very big, and he doesn't have many funny moments. [...] [Jeffrey M. Anderson@ Combustible Celluloid]"
"From its inception, The Mack had more on its mind than delivering a Blaxploitation film, a label director Michael Campus always resisted. He shouldn't have. His film is one of the finest examples of the genre, a smartly executed and deeply ambitious story of crime, corruption, and prostitution [...]. But it's clear where his hesitation with the term comes from: The film has its cake and eats it, too, deconstructing and offering social commentary on the genre it simultaneously performs with such deft style. The Mack provides the easy and retro pleasures of other entries in the 'pimp film' sub-genre, like Super Fly (1972 / theme) and Dolemite (1975 / trailer), but its intellectual concerns and commitment to fusing it to a form of social realist cinema mark it more as the evolutionary sibling to Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971), released just two years earlier. [AV Club]"
But for all the praise this film usually gets — a particularly good review is found here at Pulp International — there are counter-voices, like Then Again, Who Does?, which views The Mack as "incompetent technically", "all over the map and nearly incoherent at times", and "a repugnant piece of trash": "The Mack enjoys its hallowed place in the exploitation cinema pantheon because it is so openly transgressive and so celebrates its male anti-hero and the misogynistic ethic that informs him. As a document of how pimps view themselves, it perhaps has some anthropological value. And the film certainly values pimps and serves as the prototypical example of the 'it's hard out here for a pimp' genre that openly stomps on the worth of women and asks us to sympathize with someone because at least he's trying to get rich (even if doing so by turning women, through mental and physical brutality, into his chattel property). The poor guy just wants to get rich via the exploitation of others and here are all these people — corrupt cops, tricks that don't know their place, white gangsters, his brother trying to rid the streets of drugs and prostitution, and other pimps with less game — that keep standing in his way. Why can't people understand he's just trying to make his own way in this world? [...]"
Over in her interview at the William Girdler website, Carol Speed mentions "While I worked on The Mack, I never knew when the party stopped and actual filming started." For that, the experience must not have been 100% smooth, as she used the experience as the basis for her first novel, Inside Black Hollywood (1980), which was published by one of our favorite publishing houses, the sadly departed Holloway House. An interesting review of the book can be found at the great Temple of Schlock, where they write (among other things):
"A fictionalized account of the making of The Mack — it's called The Chance here, with Ms. Speed telling the whole sordid story through her Dorothy Jean Dickerson persona — Inside Black Hollywood drops its readers headfirst into the mire of the '70s exploitation movie scene and makes them swim with the sharks for 250 pages. Sure, all the names have been changed to protect the innocent (as well as the guilty, the stoned, and the just-plain-stupid), but you won't need more than your two eyes and a copy of The Mack to figure out who's who. First and foremost, there's arrogant leading man Henry Worth (Max Julien?), a borderline sociopath scheming to get Dorothy Jean fired from the film so his girlfriend — bitchy actress Lisa McLaine (Vonetta McGee?) — can get the role instead. Next on Speed's shit list is producer Gerald Goldfarb (Harvey Bernhard?), who overestimates Worth's box-office worth and insists on kissing his ass instead of Dorothy Jean's (Bernhard also produced Julien and McGee's Thomasine and Bushrod [1974 / fan trailer] a year later). Then there's the director, Mark Katz (Michael Campus?), who'd rather bone every actress on the set than make a halfway coherent film. Oh, and let's not forget the pathetic, self-pitying starlet Tanya Stevens (Annazette Chase?), who screwed Mark to get a part in the movie — a part that's getting smaller and smaller with every passing day — and out-of-control comedian Bubba Johnson (Richard Pryor?), who's on the skids because he told one too many 'big dick' jokes in front of little old white ladies in Las Vegas and got his ass kicked out of town by the Mob." 
From the soundtrack, Willie Hutch's
Brother's Gonna Work It Out:
The Mack went on to eventually be released as part of a double bill with Jack Hill's classic Coffy (1973), including at the McVickers in Chicago.

"Bobby Womack will accept my 12th Annual Black Music Award Sept 30 Los Angeles." 
Carol Speed at twitter (Aug 30, 2012)
(1973, dir. Richard A. Colla)
Okay, here's a film project that made it to a DVD release once already, but will probably never get pulled out of the vaults again — too obscure. Tenafly is found on any given online Carol Speed filmography, though the details are sketchy: an un-credited appearance in a TV movie. 
Theme and credits to
But Tenafly is a bit more than just one movie: "Tenafly is a crime-drama series starring James McEachin (of The Black Klansman [1966]) that was part of the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie wheel for the 1973-74 season. It was created by Richard Levinson (7 Aug 1934 – 12 Mar 1987) and William Link (15 Dec 1933 – 27 Dec 2020), the creators of popular mystery television shows such as Columbo (1968 – 2003) and Murder, She Wrote (1984 – 96). It was the one of the first television series that season to star an African-American character as the protagonist [...]. [Wikipedia]"
Not exactly a hit, only five Tenafly "movies" were aired before it was cancelled. The name was probably an allusion both to the affluent NYC suburb of Tenafly, New Jersey, as well as a play on the highly popular Blaxploitation classic, Super Fly (1972), which was rather unnecessarily repimped in 2018 (trailer). 
Trailer to
Super Fly (1972):
"Harry Tenafly (McEachin) was a rarity amongst television's private detectives: He was black and a dedicated and happy family man. Unlike most private detectives, Harry was neither chasing nor being chased by beautiful women. He lived in Los Angeles with his wife, Ruth (Lillian Lehman of Night Trap [1993 / trailer]), and their son, Herb (Paul Jackson of Cinderella Liberty [1973 / trailer]). He was happy with his family and saw his job with High Tower Investigations Inc. as only a job. The action in the series was divided between his home and his office life. His friend and confidant at the police department was Lieutenant Sam Church (David Huddleston [17 Sep 1930 – 2 Aug 2016] of Postal [2007 / trailer] and Slaves [1969]), who often got Harry out of jams.* (Nostalgia Central)" And he had a secretary named Lorrie (Rosanna Huffman [12 Aug 1938 – 20 May 2016] of "the first feminist exploitation movie" The Ladies Club [1986 / trailer]). 
* White savior time. 
Trailer to
Slaves (1969):
Carol Speed's uncredited appearance in an unknown role appears to be in the pilot movie, which was simply titled Tenafly and aired 12 Feb 1973. It was directed by the now-retired TV director Richard A. Colla, and the name guest star — most mystery movies always had a "name" guest star — was Mel Ferrer ([25 Aug 1917 – 2 Jun 2008] of Nightmare City [1980]). Among director Colla's few (five in total) feature film projects is also his best-known project, Fuzz (1972), which we looked at in Uschi Part VI: 1972.
The plot of the pilot episode? Tenafly gets hired by a talk-show host (Ed Nelson [21 Dec 1928 – 9 Aug 2014] of A Bucket of Blood [1959], The Boneyard [1991] and so much more) to clear the host's name by finding out who killed his wife.
TV promo for
Over at Authors Den, on the fascinatingly crazy Carol Speed Page, supposedly put up by Carol Speed during the days she lived in Atlanta, it is written with schadenfreude: "Jim McEachin, the star of Tenafly, was rude to Carol Speed all during her filming of Tenafly with him. He told her that it was a mess about her association with Frank Ward and his assassination. Then he told her that he was very good friends with Clint Eastwood and would be filming Magnum Force (1973 / trailer) with him. Clint Eastwood must have not considered Jim McEachin too much of a friend because Felton Perry got the role that Jim McEachin was supposed to get in Magnum Force."
"America's space program looks like film from the movie 2001 Space Odessey. America's space program is fraud." 
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 5, 2012)
(1973, dir. Cirio H. Santiago)

A.k.a. as Black Savage, Black Valor and — we shit you not — The Technician. Not to be mistaken with the Steven Spielberg television movie Savage (info), also from 1973.
Trailer to
Like all great names in exploitation films (and even more non-names), Carol Speed also participated in a Cirio H. Santiago (8 Jan 1936 – 26 Sept 2008) project; this is actually one of his first directorial projects to get released in the US, if not the first, and is his first Blaxploitation film. ("Savage! was my first Blaxploitation film. Roger [Corman] came to me and told me he wanted a 'Black soldier of fortune picture', so we did it." – Cirio H. Santiago)
Carol Speed has a major but secondary role, while the headlining star — the "Black soldier of fortune" — is the deliciously muscular and oh-so-manly James Iglehart, who made an impressive debut as a total asshole in Russ Meyer's masterpiece Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970 / trailer). The film career of the former baseball player was nevertheless brief; he made around a half-dozen films over his whole career, three of which were Filipino projects like this one. Noteworthy in a sad way is how the two Italian posters to the movie turn the Brother into a Honky.
Critical Condition has the a very detailed plot of this "dated, but entertaining, film from the anything-goes 70s" movie: "Jim Haygood (James Iglehart) works as a mercenary for the Filipino Army, capturing rebel guerillas and turning them over to Major Melton (Ken Metcalfe) and the Filipino government for 'interrogation'. Jim gets a conscience when he finally realizes that the men and women he turns over end up dead or raped and he snaps when one Filipino Major brags about sharing a female rebel (that Jim captured) for sex with the rest of his men. Jim breaks the Major's neck and ends up in the slammer, but he escapes and looks for help from two American showgirls: Amanda (Carol Speed), a dancer, and Vicki (Lada Edmund Jr.), a knife thrower, who both work in a local cabaret. When the two women are visited by a horny Filipino Minister of Defense (Santiago regular Vic Diaz), it leads to a series of events where Vicki is captured and tortured (with an electric prod to her vagina) by the government and Jim and Amanda escape, only to be captured by the rebel guerillas when their jeep runs out of gas. Jim proves beneficial to the rebels' cause when he saves their ass by diverting enemy fire [...], so the rebels accept him and Amanda into the fold. The first thing they do is break Vicki and rebel leader Flores (Eddie Guitierrez) out of prison while disguised as firemen. Flores and female rebel leader China (Aura Aurea) are still a little reticent in trusting Jim, but his vast military experience and street smarts soon wins them over. Eventually, Jim becomes a leader of the rebels and devises a plan to capture the Minister of Defense, but a traitor in their ranks may spell doom for the rebel movement. The finale takes place at a radio station, where a pirate broadcast goes out to all the citizens exposing government corruption, while Jim and the rebels defend the station until the broadcast is complete. The traitor, along with some good guys and gals, are killed in the ensuing battle, but the rebels live on to fight another day. [...]"
"Shot entirely in the Philippines by the country's favorite exploiteer, Cirio Santiago [...]. Plenty of Filipino extras being set on fire and being machine gunned down, as usual in films shot in the country, Speed wielding a machete, and muscle-bound Iglehart pummeling bad guys single-handedly. [DVD Drive-in]"
Comeuppance Reviews, which thinks that the movie "just doesn't have that magical 'It' factor", were less thrilled by the movie: "[Savage!] is probably one of Cirio's weakest. Thankfully, it's only 80 minutes, but it feels longer. You'd really think Savage's travails in the jungle, which include plenty of gun-shooting, exploding huts, punch-ups (and even a few seconds of racquetball) would be enough to carry the movie, but there are many slow moments and the whole outing has a lack of urgency. It could have used more intensity, or — and this may be asking a bit much — character development. But that being said, there is some interesting camerawork at times, the Don Julian (7 Apr 1937 – 6 Nov 1998) score is extremely funky and excellent, far better than the movie deserves, and the presences of Edmund Jr. (Can a woman be a Jr.?) and Speed liven things up. It would have been a total jungle slog without them." (Cirio Santiago recycled parts of the score for his far more famous hoot starring Jean Bell, T.N.T. Jackson [1974 / trailer].)
Don Julian's soundtrack to
Over at the mesmerizing Carol Speed Page at Authors Den, supposedly put up by Carol Speed during the days she lived in Atlanta (at: Carol Speed Spot, 3033 Continental Colony Parkway SW, Atlanta GA 30331), it says: "Lada Edmund, Jr., out of vicious jealousy, threw Carol Speed's beautiful white outfit into the swimming pool, before they filmed the bar scene. Carol Speed was furious, but Director Cirio Santiago had the wardrobe mistress to bring her another white outfit. Carol Speed really didn't like the outfit, but she needed to continue filming."
Lada, a former go-go-dancer who became an actress and then the best paid stunt woman in Hollywood and personal trainer and boxer, at one point (1966) even had a single on the charts...
Lada Edmund Jr's
I Know Something:
"Jew General killed so many people in Marshall Texas until I wrote to Gov Ann Richards about the Jews slaughtering people in Marshall."
Carol Speed at twitter (Sep 1, 2012)
The Girls of Huntington House
(1973, dir. Alf Kjellin)
A TV movie directed by Alf Kjellin (28 Feb 1920 – 5 Apr 1988), a Swedish actor — the poster directly below is from one of his early films, Woman without a Face (1947) — who, after arriving in Hollywood, carved himself a healthy second career as a TV director; among his few feature films is The McMasters (1970, with R.G. Armstrong).
The Girls of Huntington House is based on the eponymous novel by Clare "Blossom" Elfman (4 Nov 1925 – 10 Apr 2017), the mother of film composer Danny Elfman, and among the girls at the house are a young Sissy Spacek and Pamela Sue Martin (seen below, not from the film). "One of the secrets on the set of Girls of Huntington House is that Carol Speed and Pamela Sue Martin smoked some marijuana together. [Carol Speed Page]" Carol Speed, seen already in the first scene of the movie, wrote and sang the song I Can Make It for the movie.
The plot synopsis found everywhere online: "Girls of Huntington House stars Shirley Jones as schoolteacher Anne Baldwin. Working at a school for unwed mothers, Anne finds she can't keep her professional life and personal life separate. With no children of her own, she becomes deeply involved in the trials and tribulations of her students. This leads to profound emotional difficulties for all concerned." 
Full film:

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R.I.P. Carolyn Eisenhower Speed

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